Wednesday 17 February 2010

Review: The Wolfman

Year: 2010
Director: Joe Johnson
Screenplay: Andrew Kevin Walker, David Self
Starring: Benicio Del Toro, Anthony Hopkins, Emily Blunt, Hugo Weaving

Plot Synopsis is here

If I were Paul Ross; I suppose my review for this film would have gems; "this remake is a "shaggy dog story" "or I can't wait to get my teeth into this review" but alas, my writing isn't as strong and unfortunately those reading will have to deal with me in plain English stating that I found The Wolfman to be "a little bit shit".

It's hard to get behind a movie that has been in so much development hell that you could write another canto about it in the divine comedy, but as a reviewer of films no matter what state they come out in I kept my mind open and waited with baited breath.

I should have carried on waiting as the film is just not done yet. It's editing is choppy, the script is lacks a proper rhythm and it's problems like that effectively make telling a compelling story difficult. We often get scenes that don't seem to "finish right" and aspects of the film that don't add up properly when you view the film as a whole. One scene has ol' wolfly clearly recognizes a character that treats him badly, makes a beeline for him and murders him. However, recognizing the women he loves seems tricky, as if there's some sort of wolf Alzheimers stopping him from distinguishing characters he actually spent time with. It's moments like these that destroy what could easily be an enjoyable story. If i had noticed things like this after the film ended then the films narrative would have worked on me adequately. Unfortunately, not so. These thing crop up easily for anyone (read everyone) whose paying attention.

A stronger director would probably be able to cover the tracks but Joe Johnson, director of Jurassic Park 3 (you know, the one with the fucking chatty dinosaurs) fails to utilize the tools given to him to distract the viewer that the wolfman is a bit of a lame duck. Case in point the transformation our the lead character Lawrence Talbot; a scene that glosses over some of the brilliant effects work from Rick Baker and renders the scene without any weight. Compare this to the painful transformation that Baker helped create with John Landis in An American Werewolf in London. A transformation that's so painful that you feel it. But with this said and the amount of gore and cheap jump scenes that this current wolfman has, it obvious that feeling isn't on the films agenda.

This brings me to the films lack of emotional core. The scenes between Emily Blunt and Benicio Del Toro are so listless it makes the tween screams of twilight almost moving. Alot of this stems from a performance so flat by Del Toro that it makes me wonder if he's really as much of a fan of the original Wolfman film as it is said. However, considering the films editing (reduced to the audience friendly 90 mins despite feeling like an ice age.), and the actual amount of time these two spend with each other, it's no wonder there's no true chemistry between them.

The other performers bring something a little different to the proceedings, Hugo Weaving decides it's a good idea to have Agent Smith leave The Matrix and hang about blackmoor looking for wolves, while Sir Anthony Hopkins, despite being a big star, clearly doesn't get enough taffy these days and resorts to chomping down on scenery instead. Considering how good these stars are usually, it's frustrating to see them give such naff displays.

With seeing how The Wolfman has turned out, I found myself pining for the other Del Toro, Guillermo, to sort out the mess. Del Toro is a filmmaker would clearly thrive with a project like this. A filmmaker like him makes movies that leave a lasting effect on me be it Cronos or Hellboy, which is more than I can say for the fart in the wind that is the 2010 Wolfman.

Hear me rant about this on The Cinematic Dramatic Podcast at Geek Planet Online